Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘It Really Can Wait’
With the 24/7 culture of today’s real estate industry, one YPN group is asking members to put their business on hold behind the wheel by pledging to not text and drive.
April 18, 2014
There was a time when traffic tickets and accidents were practically commonplace for YPNers with the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® in California. Sure, in some cases, it might have been because of their own follies — but other times it was because they were just doing their jobs.
With a lot of lead systems now designed to send agents text-message alerts, members of the VCCAR Young Professionals Network began to realize that the evolution of communication in the real estate industry can lead to unsafe practices on the road. The pressure to be on call 24/7 means that many real estate professionals have their eyes on their phones when they’re behind the wheel.
“There’s this idea in the industry that you always have to be available, and it’s created this epidemic of unsafe driving,” says Briana Quinn-Bouffard, 2014 chair of VCCAR YPN. “The $7,000 commission you might get is not worth the ticket or getting in an accident.”
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In an effort to get the local board to commit to ending texting and driving, VCCAR YPN developed the #LifeNotLeads campaign, which sends a message to REALTORS® that they should put their business on hold while they’re driving for the sake of everyone’s well-being on the road.
“Contrary to popular belief, it really can wait” when a lead alert or text from a client comes through while you’re driving, Quinn-Bouffard says.
The consequences of texting and driving can be disastrous. More than 3,300 people were killed and 421,000 injured in distracted-driving crashes nationwide in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Forty-three states, including California, and the District of Columbia have banned texting and driving.
One VCCAR member recently shared his experience getting busted for using his phone behind the wheel — and how he learned that a texting and driving accident could potentially cost $4.3 million:
VCCAR YPN members have been boosting their #LifeNotLeads campaign by selling T-shirts and other products emblazoned with the campaign logo. The group made bright orange rings with the hashtag sketched on them, “so that when you pick your phone up, you realize, ‘Hey, not cool. It’s gotta wait,’” Quinn-Bouffard says.
“The response has been amazing,” she continues. “We’ve been having members take video pledges not to text and drive, and we’re posting them on our Facebook page.”
VCCAR YPN is now in the process of partnering with a video company to create a commercial about the #LifeNotLeads campaign that it hopes will air on local TV stations.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but Quinn-Bouffard says the #LifeNotLeads campaign will extend far beyond that. VCCAR YPN hopes to influence other REALTOR® groups to develop similar campaigns all over the country.
“We want this to be on the forefront of everyone’s brains every day, forever,” she says. “We as an industry really need to change the way we operate.”